Thanksgiving In The Trash?

barrel of autumn vegetables. Thanksgiving in the trash?

This week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, one of the best holidays of the year. Most people are either traveling (get tips here) or hosting a meal (get tips here). Still, the main purpose of the day is to set aside some intentional time for the purpose of giving thanks. This is a wonderful exercise, as gratitude reminds us of our blessings and renews our joy.

Possessions can serve a helpful role in cultivating gratitude: a souvenir makes us grateful for a wonderful vacation, a handwritten note evokes appreciation for friendship and a dishwasher makes us thankful for modern technology. If you can’t think of something to be thankful for, glance around your home and you will probably come up with an idea or two.

One place you might not think to look is in the trash. After all, the things we throw away or recycle are items we no longer need, use or want. In addition, most people don’t particularly enjoy digging through a trash can for obvious reasons. However, the truth is that even items we no longer want can prompt thankfulness. As a professional organizer, I highly commend the process of shedding anything that isn’t adding value to your life. Nevertheless, as you toss an item into the trash or recycle bin this week, take a moment to give thanks for whatever good thing that object represents. Not sure what I mean? Here are just a few examples:

When You Toss….                    Be Thankful For….

Potato peelings                        Food and nourishment

Broken toys                              Childhood, and the innocence of this special stage

Grungy sports shoes               The opportunity to have been on a team or taken a class

A cracked cell phone               Technology and the ability to communicate

Yellowed paperbacks               Literacy

An old Christmas card              Relationships

Empty boxes                             The excitement of having received something new

Used medicine bottles             Doctors and medical care

Pants that don’t fit                   Growth and change… and having clothes that do fit

An old textbook                        Access to education

An old meeting agenda            Employment

Bags of leaves                            Nature’s bounty and beauty

An empty toothpaste tube       Teeth and the ability to chew

Junk mail                                     Access to needed items and services

Broken pens or markers           Creativity and imagination

A dirty paper coffee cup          Warm drinks on cold mornings

Tangled cables and cords        Electricity and the devices that require it

Something the dog chewed     Pets and the way they enrich our lives

An empty toilet paper roll        Sanitary facilities

Cassette tapes                           Music and the way it touches the soul

Burnt up candles                       Intimacy and celebratory moments

Empty water bottles                 Access to clean drinking water

Torn/blurry photos                   Life

*     *     *     *     *

Can you think of something you’ve disposed of recently? What did it make you thankful for?

21 thoughts on “Thanksgiving In The Trash?”

  1. What an interesting post, Seana! I love your list of prompts to help prime “gratitude” thoughts.There has been a lot of tossing going on lately and I hadn’t considered that gratitude piece. It’s a lovely idea. I recently tossed a few magazines that I finished reading. In keeping with your suggestion, I’m grateful for the eyesight to be able to read and the cognitive ability to be able to enjoy and process what I read.

    Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy Thanksgiving!
    Linda Samuels recently posted…How to Joyfully Embrace the Human Side of OrganizingMy Profile

    1. I love these observations about eyesight and cognitive ability. Those are two things it is easy to take for granted. Spend a little time with anyone who struggles with a deficiency in that area and you realize that these are truly things for which to be thankful! This post has me thinking about my own trash as well. I really have so many blessings, and being mindful of them helps me keep things in perspective. HAPPY, HAPPY Thanksgiving to you and yours, Linda!

  2. Today I peeled two big bags of apples in preparation for our family’s annual pie making day. Looking at the peelings made me thankful for treasured family time, fun holiday traditions, the wonderful farming community in my town, and our warm, cozy home! And in case you’re wondering, our final pie count was 14! So I should add being thankful for wonderful friends, neighbors and co-workers to be able to gift them to!!

    1. 14 pies?? WOW is about all I can say. What a fun tradition you have there. Isn’t it funny how something like apple peelings brought up such a list of things to be thankful for? Sounds like you have some lucky friends and neighbors as well. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  3. This morning I threw out an apple core. No big deal, right? But that apple was the last one from my last trip to the outdoor market this year. So I’m not only thankful for good food, but for our local farmers and the people who bring them into the community every year.

    1. Our local farmer’s market is ending as well, so I can relate to this one! I am so thankful for farmers, whether local or big time. Without them, I wouldn’t have food. Farming is a tough profession, and we are blessed to benefit from all they do!

      1. You’re so right! It’s not easy to be a farmer these days, and it worries me to see so much farmland being converted to residential or commercial properties. I’m truly thankful for the ones that stay in business – both the small local farmers and the larger more commercial ones.

  4. I love this post. What a wonderful way to look at the things we’ve tossed. I shared an early Thanksgiving dinner yesterday with a friend. I’m thankful for the turkey carcass which I froze with the intention of turning it into a soup sometime this winter.

    1. My mother used to make a wonderful turkey soup with the carcass and homemade noodles… you are making me a bit nostalgic over here. Isn’t it amazing how much we can find to be thankful for? I’ve got myself thinking with this one. Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving Diane!

  5. I love this post!

    Recently, I threw away old binders and other papers from my business’ early days. An index card box that helped me organize my email list topics and other binders that held old posts copies. This made me thankful for my clients and associates that support me in my business. And, I also was thankful for the opportunity to serve others and make the world a better place for next generation.

    1. Ahhh… I share some of these thankful emotions. Isn’t it amazing to look back at your early days, and then see where you are now? What a wonderful comment:)

  6. Great Post. I am very aware of things to be thankful for and how blessed I am. When I feel thankful, I always thank God who is the provider of everything we have. It’s good to think of trash as something to be thankful for because of the value it added to our lives before we threw it away. That’s something I hadn’t thought of. Have a great Thanksgiving with your family.

    1. Just finished a session with a client where we let go of clothing and toys. Even as she remembered the blessing of having had clothing for her children, another woman came to visit who could use the clothing. We ended up loading the items right into this woman’s car – talk about a blessing!

  7. What a beautiful way to mindful and thankful for our many blessings, Seana. I love this. Starting today, I’m going to make this trash thankfulness a habit. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. I’ve got myself thinking on this one as well, Ellen. I was feeling thankful for my coffee pot as I dumped old grinds into the trash this morning:) Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. As you can imagine, there are a ton of potato peels in our garbage (and scattered around the floor too) today. I love your positive perspective. I’m thankful for this trash of ours!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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